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The love affair with Instagram: social media marketing with pictures

11 February, 2015

instagram logo

With Valentines Day just around the corner, now is a key time of year for “capturing the moment”. Businesses are waking up to the potential of eye-catching photography to tell their brand story through social media and engage with customers.

As a business, your choice of social media platform(s) should be informed by your social media strategy (tips on creating an integrated social media strategy here), but if you’re planning to focus your efforts on Instagram, this blog post should provide some useful tips.

The love affair with Instagram

One of the more recent and most successful social media platforms is Instagram. Launched in October 2010, within 2 months it had 1 million regular users. And just a year later, this had grown to 10 million while still exclusive for iphone users. After its launch on android devices, Instagram has grown even further, with 200 million active monthly users, 1.6 billion daily likes and an average of 60 million photos shared a day. It is now considered by many to be the ‘go to’ social media platform for photo sharing.

Jamie Oliver on Instagram

Jamie Oliver on Instagram

Following on from my previous post in 2012, Instagram remains in the most part a consumer-driven phenomenon, but business social media marketing through this platform is becoming more popular.

Instagram isn’t just a public platform for people to share their everyday photos on though, it has benefits from an effective internet marketing perspective due to its simplicity. Negating the need for regular content writing and scheduled social media posts, Instagram is not so much what you say in text, it’s what you show in images. I’ve mentioned before in my social media posts, photos often get far more engagement than updates on other platforms, many of which you can auto post to and from other accounts, such as Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.

While using the specific filters and editing on Instagram directly is easy, many companies use other apps before uploading to Instagram and in recent years the photo app industry has exploded. Here are my three top picks for photo apps that will help your Instagram account stand out from the rest:

(1) Afterlight

Afterlight is a great little app that has 59 unique filters, 66 textures and 128 frames. The frames may be the best function of this app: the free silhouette and type frames are a nice addition to give your photos something extra – and you post them directly onto Instagram from this app.

Available on IoS, Android and Windows

Afterlight logo

(2) Quick

Quick is a marketers dream. It allows you to quickly add text to photos, perfect for those selling products (adding prices, website details or little snippets of information) or wanting to add #hashtags to their photos for sharing purposes.

Available on IoS and Android.

(3) Pro HDR Camera App

This clever app takes three photos and overlays them to create a HD photo from your phone, increasing the quality. It’s also lets you edit afterwards so that you can adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, warmth and tint leaving you with stunning photos that can be used for small print jobs too.

Available on IoS and Android

Now you’ve seen what photo apps can do for your Instagram account, here are 10 tips for successful Instagram marketing:

  1. Set up your business account using a recognisable business name and complete your profile with a photo, information and link to your website.
  2. Link to your other social media; Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare are all available to be connected to.
  3. Be strategic: think about what your brand is, what you’d like to portray to customers and keep focussed on this. Go back to your digital communications strategy and see how Instagram fits.
  4. Use brand #hashtags: always hashtag your business, your industry and your location for local marketing.
  5. Use general #hastags: photo of the coffee run in the morning? Add #coffee #latte #morning then when people use the search function, you photo will come up too – driving traffic towards your account
  6. Respond to customers: check to see if your company has been #hashtagged by others, ensure you engage with them and what they have to say about your business. If your followers comment on your photos respond to them by @name, they’ll be notified and it keeps the channel of communication open.
  7. Engage: comment on your followers’ photos, follow them back and like their pictures. Instagram is a very social place and people respond well when you respond to their photos.
  8. Post creatively: launch a product on your Instagram page, show a behind the scenes look at your business, post products as they are used in real life, post photos of your customers with their products (with their permission of course). Remember to think outside of the box, endless photos of products won’t grab people’s attention so keep it interesting.
  9. Ask questions: follower engagement will happen if you ask a question alongside a product.
  10. Post regularly: a photo every day, a photo every other day; as long as you post regularly you’ll find followers will continue to engage and your business will build.

Are you using Instagram to market your brand? Do you have a business Instagram success story? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

For regular tips on how to improve your social media marketing sign up to my weekly blog.

  • Maria Ahmed says:

    Hi Jonny-Great post. I deal with SEO but no matter how hard i try, i cant seem to avoid social media, i’m finding sites like Facebook and Twitter difficult to work with as it is, particularly with no paid adverts to push things along faster, so would any effort on instagram worth it? From what i am aware you cant really get direct links into posts etc so is it the wisest choice for clients who want to know how many links they posted etc etc. The point of social is to build a brand but for those who are less likely to have patience, is it best to stick with Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus?

    • Jonny Ross says:

      It’s not just about links, it’s about having real conversations with people and creating a community. If you are using social just for SEO then you have the wrong mindset. Good Luck Maria!

  • […] The love affair with Instagram: social media marketing with pictures […]

  • […] The love affair with Instagram: social media marketing with pictures […]

  • […] Instagram is a great way to create engagement with your audience and to add some personality to your business. But are you ever concerned images are difficult to source due to your industry location? With […]

    1. Maria Ahmed says:

      Hi Jonny-Great post. I deal with SEO but no matter how hard i try, i cant seem to avoid social media, i’m finding sites like Facebook and Twitter difficult to work with as it is, particularly with no paid adverts to push things along faster, so would any effort on instagram worth it? From what i am aware you cant really get direct links into posts etc so is it the wisest choice for clients who want to know how many links they posted etc etc. The point of social is to build a brand but for those who are less likely to have patience, is it best to stick with Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus?

      1. Jonny Ross says:

        It’s not just about links, it’s about having real conversations with people and creating a community. If you are using social just for SEO then you have the wrong mindset. Good Luck Maria!

    2. […] The love affair with Instagram: social media marketing with pictures […]

    3. […] The love affair with Instagram: social media marketing with pictures […]

    4. […] Instagram is a great way to create engagement with your audience and to add some personality to your business. But are you ever concerned images are difficult to source due to your industry location? With […]

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